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Penn State Center: Engaging Philadelphia
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Laura Gates

Major: Sociology
Minor: Education Policy Studies, Information Science and Statistical Analysis
Hometown: Wilmington, DE

How did you learn about this opportunity?

I found out about the internship through the PSU jobs website.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

The Penn State Center is an office in Center City that houses a couple different departments, including a branch of the Stuckeman School of Architecture and Agricultural Extension. At this position, I was able to experience different types of work environments, tasks, and projects that spanned a wide variety of topics. Every day was something different; on Mondays, interns were in the office taking workshops, listening to speakers, or working on projects. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays we were paired with a partner site as a way for Penn State to offer program support in the Philadelphia agricultural community. Fridays consisted mostly of field trips and workdays at other interns’ partner sites. The particular site I was paired with was the Federation of Neighborhood Centers, a nonprofit organization focused on strengthening its neighborhood through youth and adult empowerment programs as well as workforce education and urban agriculture. In particular, I worked with Teens4Good, an internship program funded by the Philadelphia Youth Network. The purpose of the program is to give teenagers valuable personal and professional development in an agricultural setting.

How did this experience impact you academically?

I definitely learned a lot. I was the only person going into the program with no science background, so I gained a lot of practical knowledge about agriculture, farming, and nutrition. I was also able to gain valuable experience working with a nonprofit and living in an urban environment. I feel like I have a better understanding for what I do and don't want to do after I graduate.

I was also able to gain valuable experience working with a nonprofit and living in an urban environment

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

I have short and long term career goals - after graduation I hope to work in outdoor recreation and education. I love working with kids and am very interested in the benefits of experiential-based learning and personal development. I also like the immersive nature of outdoor recreation and how easy it is to travel for work. For the long term, however, I would like to go back to school and work in higher education, either in counseling or student affairs.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

Yes! I had a great summer and learned a lot. I recommend it especially for people interested in urban farming or working with urban populations in general.

How has the Paterno Fellows Program had an impact on this experience?

PFP has been very supportive of my summer experience and I do think my involvement in the program has positively benefitted me. For example, its taught me to be proactive and prepared me to work in a fast-paced environment.

 

For more information on internships for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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